Generalized pustular psoriasis (GPP) is a rare, life-threatening, inflammatory skin disease characterized by widespread eruption of sterile pustules. Interleukin-36 signaling is involved in the pathogenesis of this disorder. Spesolimab, a humanized anti–interleukin-36 receptor monoclonal antibody, is being studied for the treatment of GPP flares.
In a phase 2 trial, we randomly assigned patients with a GPP flare in a 2:1 ratio to receive a single 900-mg intravenous dose of spesolimab or placebo. Patients in both groups could receive an open-label dose of spesolimab on day 8, an open-label dose of spesolimab as a rescue medication after day 8, or both and were followed to week 12. The primary end point was a Generalized Pustular Psoriasis Physician Global Assessment (GPPGA) pustulation subscore of 0 (range, 0 [no visible pustules] to 4 [severe pustulation]) at the end of week 1. The key secondary end point was a GPPGA total score of 0 or 1 (clear or almost clear skin) at the end of week 1; scores range from 0 to 4, with higher scores indicating greater disease severity.
A total of 53 patients were enrolled: 35 were assigned to receive spesolimab and 18 to receive placebo. At baseline, 46% of the patients in the spesolimab group and 39% of those in the placebo group had a GPPGA pustulation subscore of 3, and 37% and 33%, respectively, had a pustulation subscore of 4. At the end of week 1, a total of 19 of 35 patients (54%) in the spesolimab group had a pustulation subscore of 0, as compared with 1 of 18 patients (6%) in the placebo group (difference, 49 percentage points; 95% confidence interval [CI], 21 to 67; P<0.001). A total of 15 of 35 patients (43%) had a GPPGA total score of 0 or 1, as compared with 2 of 18 patients (11%) in the placebo group (difference, 32 percentage points; 95% CI, 2 to 53; P=0.02). Drug reactions were reported in 2 patients who received spesolimab, in 1 of them concurrently with a drug-induced hepatic injury. Among patients assigned to the spesolimab group, infections occurred in 6 of 35 (17%) through the first week; among patients who received spesolimab at any time in the trial, infections had occurred in 24 of 51 (47%) at week 12. Antidrug antibodies were detected in 23 of 50 patients (46%) who received at least one dose of spesolimab.
In a phase 2 randomized trial involving patients with GPP, the interleukin-36 receptor inhibitor spesolimab resulted in a higher incidence of lesion clearance at 1 week than placebo but was associated with infections and systemic drug reactions. Longer and larger trials are warranted to determine the effect and risks of spesolimab in patients with pustular psoriasis